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Holding down a job has a downside for teens

A teen's first job is supposed to teach responsibility, character-building, and real-life lessons, the conventional wisdom goes. And from a high schooler’s perspective, after-school gigs are essential to earning much-desired spending money. (Not to mention, for some teens, earning money by working helps their families make ends meet.)But before the kids convince you to let them flip burgers or w

A teen's first job is supposed to teach responsibility, character-building, and real-life lessons, the conventional wisdom goes. And from a high schooler’s perspective, after-school gigs are essential to earning much-desired spending money. (Not to mention, for some teens, earning money by working helps their families make ends meet.)

But before the kids convince you to let them flip burgers or work at the mall, take note of a study released today in the journal Child Development. Researchers found that high school students who worked more than 20 hours weekly ended up with more academic and behavior problems than kids who stayed under the 20-hour threshold.  After surveying data on 1,800 middle-class 10th and 11th graders, the scientists and also found the effect lingers; even when teens cut back on their hours or stopped working altogether, they were still more likely to get into trouble and do drugs.

Now, the researchers do acknowledge that "working during high school is unlikely to turn law-abiding teenagers into felons or cause students to flunk out." The bigger point of the study: Even though high school jobs are rites of passage, this is yet another area that parents have to monitor.

How do you feel about teens having a part-time job?